Fundraising Regulator: Update on the review of the Code of Fundraising Practice

15 June 2023 | Applicable law: England and Wales | 2 minute read

Last month the Fundraising Regulator published an update on its ongoing review of the Code of Fundraising Practice. The regulator is developing proposals for consultation and shared the key themes that it is considering. 

It is a difficult task to provide a single code of practice that covers all the issues faced by the most sophisticated fundraising charities which raise millions of pounds each year, while ensuring it is accessible to smaller charities without experienced fundraisers.

One of the most significant themes which will almost certainly form part of the eventual consultation is ensuring the code is fit for the digital fundraising landscape. The sheer variety and ingenuity of fundraising proposals which charities have received over the past few years is something which can perhaps be catered for in more detail in the new code and it is clear that this is an area where the new code needs to be flexible and to ensure that it caters for further innovation. Since the code was last reviewed in 2018/19 we have seen a significant rise in online fundraising via social media and gaming platforms and in particular offerings around cryptocurrency which charities have needed to consider very carefully. In future it is not hard to envisage that charities will be grappling with the role of AI platforms and tools in fundraising.

A further key theme is ensuring that the code signposts where charities need to consider the role of other regulators whose work touches the fundraising landscape. Areas which frequently impact charity fundraising such as data protection and gambling law have their own separate regulation and the Fundraising Regulator is considering these sections of the code to assess how they can be clear and helpful to charities.

Finally, a constant and vital issue in charity fundraising is ensuring that the regulator is able to give appropriate guidance on vulnerability and ensuring that everyone involved in the fundraising landscape is appropriate protected. This includes donors, fundraisers, volunteers and everyone who supports charities' work in this area.

From a legal perspective, the fundraising landscape does feel ripe for reform. The fact that the primary legislation governing charity fundraising is the Charities Act 1992, which almost predates the internet, shows that this is an area where the law has not caught up with innovation and fundraising developments. Many charity lawyers have been confronted with fundraising proposals which do not quite fit into any of the classifications in the 1992 Act, and similarly some of the requirements placed on those who fundraise for charities are outdated and not fit for purpose in the age of digital marketing and advertising.

While the system of charity fundraising is one of voluntary regulation, and the Fundraising Regulator has no power to change the law, it is to be hoped that some of these nuances are brought out and addressed in this latest review of the code.

The Fundraising Regulators full consultation is likely to launch in autumn of this year.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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